© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Business of curling facilitator Jack Bowman speaks to the group of volunteers who took part in the Business of Curling Workshop held on the weekend at the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club. The PAGCC board of directors solicited Bowman's expertise to help with designing a long-term business plan in an attempt to make the group financially viable and more appealling to its user groups.
A larger than anticipated decline in curling participation this past winter has sounded some alarms for the board of directors of the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club and this weekend they took their first steps to rectifying the situation when a Business of Curling Workshop was held at the PAGCC facility.
“We as a board felt we had to model a strategic direction and provide a good experience for the members,” noted club president Duane Hayunga near the conclusion of the intense weekend session on Sunday. “We want to grow our membership and make it financially viable.”
“We lost a number of members – slightly more than average,” added Hayunga. “That drove us to realize we have to look at our operations and see what we can do to make the members happy.”
Therein lies a small problem – the public’s misconception of the PAGCC.
There is a prevailing belief in the community that the PAGCC is a member’s-only facility and that is the first thing that has to be dispelled as the organization moves forward.
In an attempt to try and clear the air this is how things shake out at PAGCC.
Cooke Municipal Golf Course, which shares the same site as the PAGCC, is a separate entity in its own and is operated by the City of Prince Albert.
The PAGCC is the building in which My Place restaurant is located along with several meeting rooms and the curling rink. PAGCC also owns the parking lot that is used by both ventures and is the owner of the building in which Darcy’s Pro Shop operates out of.
The common denominator is the golf members utilize the PAGCC facilities, but it is up to the PAGCC to manage the building and curling rink.
How this all came about was back in 1968 the city was looking for a central location for a new fire hall. PAGCC had a curling rink all on its own where the present fire hall is situated so a land transfer was agreed moving the curling rink up to the site where it is now attached to Cooke Municipal Golf Course.
Initially, the new PAGCC facility was for members only, but that requirement was removed years ago – even decades in the past. Getting away from the “elitist” label has been an ongoing process and now the PAGCC board wants everyone to know that they are welcome.
“I think the outcome (from the workshop) was a good start on developing a strat (strategic) plan,” admits Hayunga. “From here on we will hopefully see some action take place.”
To help with pointing the organization in the right direction the PAGCC board brought in Jack Bowman, a business of curling facilitator from Brentwood Bay in the Victoria region, to conduct the workshop.
Bowman, who has previous experience in working with curling clubs and was on the Canadian Curling Association’s board of governors for five years, brought with him a template from which the Prince Albert group can design a business plan and he sees no reason for the group to not be successful.
“They have concerns with an aging facility and aging membership so they have a need for a multi-year strategic business plan,” explained Bowman. “There is nothing here that says they are in jeopardy.”
Areas that were discussed included trends that are affecting curling in Canada, marketing, management structure, communications, building and facility enhancement, membership retention and recruitment, revenue generation and working with volunteers.
Objectives and strategies for each area were developed with everything being compiled into a workable business plan.
“They have to take baby steps and review annually,” noted Bowman.
“I’m real happy with the level of involvement,” added Hayunga. “We had about 20 people here and not all of them are board members. They were just really interested.”
The first order of business is to let everyone in Prince Albert and surrounding area know that they are welcome, either as a curler, golfer or just a casual visitor. The restaurant is for everyone’s use and so are the meeting rooms with catering facilities also on site.
A general manager might be hired in the future to run the day-to-day operations, but for now the board is taking the responsibility of turning things around. Current membership lists are being constructed and former curlers will be called to see if they wish to return to the facility. Working with other clubs in the surrounding area is also on the agenda, but for now it is like Bowman says; “baby steps,” are necessary.